Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Serrailler falls back on well tried police methods such as questioning neighbours and house-to-house searches. Simon has been promoted and is now with the Serious Incident Flying Taskforce, but he is still at heart a loner and these chilly murders are on his home territory.
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"taut writing, narrator perfect - read in order!!!"
Susan Hill is a new (to me :) )British author I've been listening to/reading. It's always a pleasure to find an author you really like who has been writing for awhile, so there is a treasure trove of sorts to plunder. (Phil Rickman, Deborah Crombie (albeit an american who writes British mysteries,) and Christopher Fowler are other audible mystery recommendations (to me) with a collection of brilliant novels to revel in days, weeks or however much time you have to devote to listening to books.) I am constantly listening again and again to the Rickman and Crombie novels as well as Fowler's. I expect to do so with Ms. Hill's Serrailler books.
I normally do not write recommendations but feel motivated to do so because the Simon Serrailler books need to be read in order. (Note Ms. Hill states otherwise on her web site, however, . . ,) The reason? The stories, plot and characters lives, are built upon in each new book. Where one plot starts in an earlier novel, it continues on and into the the following books. By reading Vows of Silence first, I was flung into a world of which its foundations were set forth in the earlier novels. I hope audible picks up the first novel and the most recent one.
As I read the books available on audible backwards in time I realized how much more I would have enjoyed them if read in order. But for me, it just means I will get to read them again, now in order, and appreciate the characters as there were truly intended to be.
"I think I'm done"
No criticism of the writing, only content. Too melodramatic, she has gone too far. Yes people die, life happens, but in the normal course of life there is usually small bright moments that sustain us. Everyone in this story is or should be contemplating death in a very very, yes, BLEAK way.
"No one is safe with Susan Hill"
First, I have to say I love the Simon Serrailler series. I've read them all and even make myself wait a while between books so that there is still another left to read. I hope she continues to write them. This review is less a review of a single book than a review up to the point in the series to which I have read (#5).
The actual crime and workings of the police are the primary subject of the stories, but the various characters that Hill introduces play large roles and are not simply peripheral to this or future stories. Simon's family is also a large part each book, and they go about their lives sharing moments and thoughts with you even when they are only on the perimeter of a particular book.
Yet, unlike most novelists, no character is sacred to the story or the series. Characters that one would expect to endure, simply because of their proximity to and importance to the main character, drop like flies leaving pain, anguish and general unhappiness in their wake. In fiction it seems no one is left but the main character, or everyone the main character holds dear is safe with few exceptions. Not so Susan Hill. Don't get too attached to any of the series regular characters, there is no safety. Danger and illness lurk at every corner.
In spite of this lack of security, there is joy and normality in every novel. Evil does not lurk in every nook and cranny. General day to day activities and troubles come up. No one is perfect. No one is unredeemable (excepting possibly the criminal in the case).
The narrator reads perfectly and brings the story to life.
I love these books, even though I love happy endings. I suppose because they are so much like real life in the disappointment of events, yet the continuity of day to day life continues to move on and past the tragedy.
"Will Drive You to Drink!"
Susan Hill is a fabulous writer, but damn, this one is depressing!
Lots of illness, lots of death, and the murderer in this one is killing people just at one of the happiest moments of their lives.
I can understand wanting to prune away some characters in a serial, but really, did she have to do it all in one book? Maybe it's like tearing away a band-aid as opposed to easing it off - it hurts less if you go fast and just get it over with. I dunno. I'm not quite getting Hill's gimmicks - the loose ends, the depressing plot points - but she's a good enough writer (and Pacey a reader) that I'm gonna go along with her...until I can't anymore!
If you're new to Hill, don't start with this book! Go find "The Various Haunts of Men" and start there. That one is not a happy story either, and if you're sensitive to crimes against children, even fictional (crimes and children), you might prefer one of her ghost stories instead. No one is safe in a Susan Hill book!
"Still love Susan Hill's books!"
Real surprise ending.
Cat is my favorite, even though I like Simon, even with his flaws.
Only hear him on Hill's books.
I really, really am put out with the fact that Hill kills off characters that we have come to know and care about. If I wanted doom and gloom, I'd read True Crime novels.
Even with the comment above, I still come back for more of Susan Hill's books!
"Beware....yet another duplicate"
This is the second time recently I've purchased a book that is a duplicate of one that was published on here some time ago. They change the cover and apparently some other identifier so it doesn't show that it's already in your library and because it's an author you like, you buy it again. I listen to a LOT of books so remembering titles is hopeless for me but as soon as I started listening to this one, too, I knew I'd heard it before. Sure enough, it is in my library but with a different cover and slightly different time. Same narrator and unabridged as is the previous one. I wish Audible would clearly state that for some reason they have re-recorded some books. A big waste of my credits.
I really enjoy these books, they are very detailed and I can picture so perfectly this English town and countryside. However, Susan Hill drives me mad with her willingness to kill off key characters. Why does everyone have to die?
I like the way she narrates from the killers point of view.
The death of Chris, although I am mad he died!
Chris's death made me cry.
I hope some happier things happen in the next books, this one brought me down. I am taking a break from this series.
I couldn't put it down. the story is Well written and it's a smooth read but the characterization makes it so much more. It is like visiting a world of people one knows. I cannot wait for the next book in the series.
"Last Susan Hill book I will buy"
Hill, absolutely will not buy another. Pacey, definitely yes.
If I did not have to buy it and was desperate for an audio book, I might listen. I will never spend money on her books again.
None. I cannot choose a favorite from 1) supposedly main characters who are not given flesh 2) "filler" characters who seem to exist solely to create a novel rather than a short story.
The widow, her boyfriend, her son, her daughter...a ridiculous parallel plot with a hodgepodge of cardboard characters who were just white noise filling up pages.
Reads like disparate vinettes that have been compiled into one book. Competing story lines that barely even tangentially intersect and contribute nothing to each other. This is my 4th Serrailler series book. I kept hoping that the progression of the series would pull story lines together and vivify main characters. The author occasionally pens a poignant phrase, but many other authors do this while also offering rich, multi-dimesional characters. I am not willing to invest more money and time in this series or this author.
Disconnected characters who didn't make sense or impact the story. Not worth the time to listen to except it was preformed/read well.
This series just gets better and better. Although I am not usually interested in "family drama" novels, these books are so well written that I have become really involved with the characters and the ongoing story of the interwoven families in the book kept me engrossed.
Although it could be read on its own, I would say that the book is best read after the first three. I hope that there will be more, as I am looking forward to finding out what happens next.
My only criticism is that there is one important loose end not tied up (I can't say what it is without revealing the end) but perhaps it will be dealt with in the next story.
Steven Pacey is excellent as the reader - not only fluent and good at accents, but a superb reminder of my favourite childhood television series!
"More than just a detective story"
I've enjoyed several of the books in this series featuring DCI Simon Serrailer and thought this one especially good. Serrailer is a more unusual sort of policeman than that commonly depicted in detection fiction: much more interesting and sensitive and not exhibiting the clichés of being a cynical hard-drinking, smoking, junk-food-eating cop. In other detective series I get bored by the side stories of the detective's sad lives and emotional baggage, whereas, in this book, Serrailer's relationships with his sister and father add to the basic story and make the book a much more satisfying listen. It's a good detective story, too. The reader is excellent, which makes such a difference to an audio book.
"Entertaining but disappointing"
I have read / listened to all the Simon Serrailler books in order. I've thoroughly enjoyed all to date but found this one a little predictable. As usual there are family problems for Simon to deal with and (without wishing to give anything away) this was expertly dealt with by Susan Hill's usual delicate touch. The main story around a gunman on the loose, however, started well but failed to deliver in that - a number of lines of enquiry - to a laymen - were obviously missed which I found frustrating and I had guessed the killer very early on. I'd still recommend it as an easy read / listen but it's not her best of this series.
"Great Narrator, Shame about the plot"
The narrator did a great job. If you're already a fan of Susan Hill then I recommend this audiobook.
I understand Susan Hill has received quite a few awards for her writing. The Whitbread, Somerset Maugham and John Llewelyn Rhys awards, as well as having been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Perhaps her other books would be more to my taste, but I'll not be putting that theory to the test any time soon.
'Vows of Silence' features her MC detective, Simon Serrailler. I expected some excitement as a serial killer stalks through the town of Lafferton. However, instead of a thrilling story I got a psychological profile of the detective: how he feels about his family and in particular his father's new girlfriend. With all the time he spends at his sister's house I wondered how he managed to hold down his job. The killings aren't really solved by his skills as a detective...which to me is disappointing in a crime novel.
Much of the start is what I think of as backstory. The book isn't poorly written; there are some beautifully descriptive scenes: e.g. when she describes a distraught child in such a way that I could feel it's distress.
The other two scenes that I found memorable were about a teenage boy caught up in religious fanaticism and a moving scene which involves the death of someone whose been ill throughout the book.
Oh, on the theme of death, there's a serial killer who kills a lot of people - as he should (being a serial killer and all). Then there's the hospice and all the deaths from terminal diseases (cancer features heavily in this book); then there's death and injury by accident, a couple of at home deaths; there's suicide...I wonder if there was a tick box of how many ways one can die? The body count practically puts the whole series of 'Midsomer Murders' to shame.
"Susan Hill at her best again"
Another great Simon Serrailer story. Susan Hill creates such great characters that it's a joy to get to know them better with each book. She writes fantastic dialogue which Stephen Pacey narrates quite beautifully.
I really enjoyed the book.
"Best of the series to date"
Susan Hill's Simon Serrailler series just get better and better.
A bit on the dark side, with lots of twists and turns. I enjoy the characters, old and new and the narrator has a wonderful way of bringing them all to life.
Now to start on book 5.
This one made me cry' can't give anything away but it was very touching and very well done.
The story wasn't given away till the end the narrator was great as always however the voice used for Sam was soooooo annoying!! But not of putting.
Already bought the next two!! Can't wait to get stuck in!!
"my favourite series"
I love listening to the stories of Stephen and the problems of Laverton. A can't wait to listen to the next in line.
"Great story brilliant narration"
I'm now hooked on this series - mainly because Steven Pacey narrates them - I loved the department Q books (last one had a narrator change so haven't listened to that one).
Great story - bit disappointed with part of the story though - no spoilers here!
Have listened to them in order which they really should be as there is a background and you learn about the characters as the books progress.
Definitely worth a listen - great series, now off to get book 5!
"The series continues"
I am completely hooked on this series of books. I am planning to listen to them all. I would recommend listening to them in order, although this is strong enough to stand alone.
It is a family saga rather than a straight forward crime thriller. The amount of detail relating to family & friends may frustrate anyone looking forward to a fastet paced who dunnit.
However I am loving it.
The death count, other than murders is rather grim but so far within the bounds of possibility .
interesting nuances on religious beliefs,.
The narrator, Steven Pacey does a brilliant job in differentiating between characters.
I did work out who was the killer but not until the last couple of chapters.
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